News and Events

Thursday, June 2, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM

“Natural Costs and Benefits”

Thursday, June 2, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

“Valuing the Environment”

Friday, June 3, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM

“Policy Choices”


Friday, June 3, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

“Climate Change”


NOTE: for the My Story series, the September and October events will be via Zoom only.


Sponsored by the

Wilma Dykeman Legacy

2nd Thursday of each month, 7:00 – 8:00 PM


                Since the beginning of language, poetry has evolved as a way for humans to tell stories, to share humor and belief, and to respond to the pain and beauty of this world. Epic poems – Gilgamesh, The Iliad and The Odyssey, The Mahabharata, The Aeneid, Beowulf, The Song of Roland – celebrated heroic deeds in the midst of tragedy.   Their poetic structure allowed memorization and recitation of these lengthy narratives down through the generations. More recently, shorter lyric poems – whether rhymed or unrhymed – have allowed the common man and woman to speak to us in their own voices.

                During this extraordinary time of quarantine, the Wilma Dykeman Legacy is sponsoring a new way for us to share the power of the written and spoken word: the Poem of the Month Club. On the 2nd Thursday evening of each month, through at least December of 2020, registrants will gather via Zoom teleconferencing to hear and discuss a preselected poem. This “poetry hour” – our response to the pandemic – will be hosted by the Wilma Dykeman Legacy and led by an experienced discussion leader. You can attend as many discussions – or as few – as you like. If you would like to register, just send an email BY END-OF-DAY MONDAY BEFORE THE 2ND THURSDAY to Jim Stokely, President of the Wilma Dykeman Legacy, at We will then send you a standard copy of the poem with suggestions for reading and rereading in advance of the Zoom discussion.

                Participation per gathering will be limited to 24, because that is the maximum number of participants who can be seen at one time via Zoom’s Gallery View. In this virus-dominated time, we need to see each other and come together in community. What better way to do that than with the help of language crafted to take us beyond ourselves?



It's not too early to save several autumn 2018 dates for our new series at the West Asheville Public Library titled Southern Woman Writing America between the World Wars.  Our fall lineup includes 4 lectures, 4 matching book club discussions, a text-based musical performance, and a documentary film screening. All events will take place from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM in the library's meeting room at 942 Haywood Road, Asheville NC 28806.  Here is the schedule:

Wednesday, September 12 - 2 short documentary films about Lillian Smith

Thursday, September 13 - lecture by Margaret Rose Gladney on Lillian Smith and her bestselling novel Strange Fruit

Wednesday, September 19 - book club discussion of Strange Fruit

Thursday, October 11 - lecture by Emily Powers Wright on Caroline Miller and her Pulitzer Prize novel Lamb in His Bosom

Wednesday, October 17 - book club discussion of Lamb in His Bosom

Wednesday, November 7 - text-based musical performance about Mildred Haun

Thursday, November 8 - lecture by Katie Hoffman about East Tennessee author Mildred Haun and her short story cycle The Hawk's Done Gone

Wednesday, November 14 - book club discussion of The Hawk's Done Gone

Thursday, December 13 - lecture by Victoria Barker on Elizabeth Madox Roberts and her bestselling novel The Time of Man

Wednesday, December 19 - book club discussion of The Time of Man

COMING SOON - a new fall 2017 lecture series on Female Authors Writing America between the World Wars - August through December at the West Asheville Public Library !


What was the Great Flood of 1916 like, and what were its short-term and long-term impacts on Asheville and the surrounding area?  What lessons in emergency management did we learn in the hundred years between 1916 and 2016?  And are we prepared for the next floods that are sure to visit the French Broad River?

Please join us on Friday, July 15, 2016 for the first day of a 2-day symposium at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, free to the public.  Mark your calendars.  The schedule for July 15 is as follows:

  • 8:00 AM:        Welcome and Registration
  • 8:30–10:00:    Panel describing the Great Flood of 1916 in the French Broad watershed
    • Illustrated talk on the flood’s causes and devastation, presented by Milton Ready, Professor Emeritus of History at UNC Asheville
    • Preview of "River of Sorrow, Land of the Sky: The Asheville Flood of 1916," a study of the flood’s impact on an industrializing city that altered the socio-economic priorities of the area with long-lasting ramifications, presented by Anthony Sadler, graduate student in environmental history at Appalachian State University. 
  • 10:00 AM:      Morning break
  • 10:15–11:45:  Panel discussing lessons emergency managers have learned, 1916 – 2016
    • Jim Fox, Director of UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center
    • Chris Crew, State Hazard Mitigation Officer, NC Division of Emergency Management
    • John Gerber, State National Floodplain Insurance Program Coordinator, NC Department of Public Safety
  • 11:45 AM:      Lunch
  • 1:30–3:00:      Panel addressing the question, “Are we prepared for the next flood?” from the
                             standpoints of:
    • Buncombe County (Cynthia Barcklow, Planner, Buncombe County Stormwater Management Division)
    • Asheville (McCray Coates, Stormwater Services Manager, City of Asheville)
    • River Arts District (Stephanie Monson Dahl, Riverfront Redevelopment Office Director, City of Asheville)
    • Architecture (Robert Griffin, President of Griffin Architects)

Thomas Wolfe Book Club

Don't miss the second annual Thomas Wolfe Book Club during the 1st half of 2016 at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial at 52 North Market Street in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

On the 2nd Thursday of each month, from January through June, local authors will lead 6 monthly discussions of 6 preselected short stories from The Complete Short Stories of Thomas Wolfe

Refreshments will be served at 5:30 PM, and the discussion will follow from 5:45 to 7:00 PM.

Discussion details are as follows:

January 7
"Only the Dead Know Brooklyn"
Terry Roberts, Executive Director, National Paideia Center

February 11
"The Dark Messiah"
Laura Hope-Gill, Director, Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Asheville

March 10
"The Company"
Ellen Brown, Museum Consultant

April 14
Michael Sartisky, former Executive Director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

May 12
"A Prologue to America" and 
"The Promise of America"
David Madden, Novelist, Critic, Poet and Playwright

June 9
"Return of the Prodigal"
Dale Neal, Novelist and Asheville Citizen-Times Reporter


You are invited to attend an Asheville community debate in which four prominent citizens will argue against and in support of the following resolution:
RESOLVED:  Asheville has disenfranchised its African-American population. 

The debate will take place at the Asheville High School auditorium on Friday, November 13, 2015, from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.  There is no charge for attendance.
The debate features Dr. Dwight Mullen (political science professor) and Dr. Darin Waters (history professor) of UNC-Asheville arguing in SUPPORT of the resolution, and Dr. Carl  Mumpower (local psychologist) and Dr. Wendell Runion (local radio station owner and evangelist) arguing AGAINST the resolution.

In 1780, at the height of the European Enlightenment, a London newspaper reported that "the rage for public debate now shows itself in all quarters of the metropolis."  Debating in 21st century America usually means political candidates squaring off in media events, with heated exchanges highlighted.  The Wilma Dykeman Legacy, and students and coaches of Asheville High / SILSA’s Speech and Debate Team, believe that formal debate - the disciplined discussion of an issue between matched sides - can create more light than heat.  Listeners might actually learn something, and debaters can demonstrate or develop the critical skills of persuasion and public presentation.


Don't miss the Wilma Dykeman Book Club this fall at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial at 52 North Market Street in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

On the 2nd Thursday of each month, from September through December, local authors will lead 4 monthly discussions of 4 chapters from Wilma Dykeman's classic book, The French Broad

Refreshments will be served at 5:30 PM, and the discussion will follow fro 5:45 to 7:00 PM.

Discussion details are as follows:

September 10
"Who Killed the French Broad?"
Karen Cragnolin, Executive Director, RiverLink

October 8
"The Chateau and the Boardinghouse"
Dan Pierce, Chair, UNCA Department of History

November 12
"Every Home Its Own Community"
Michael Sartisky, former President, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

December 10
"No Cokes in Hell"
Catherine Frank, Executive Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Center at UNCA


On May 14, 2015, the fourth discussion of the Thomas Wolfe Book Club drew 30+ loyal readers! Paul Spivey led a discussion of "The Lost Boy."  Our next discussion -- on Wolfe's short story "Boomtown" -- will occur on Thursday, June 18 at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial at 52 North Market Street in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.  Refreshments will be served at 5:30 PM, and the hour-long discussion will begin at 6:00 PM. 


Thomas Wolfe, one of America’s greatest writers, has never lacked for people interested in his larger-than-life persona, his love affair with Aline Bernstein, his love-hate affair with Asheville, his colorful family, or other aspects of his life and career.   But the one thing that all writers need – Thomas Wolfe included – is readers.

If you’ve ever been interested in reading more of Thomas Wolfe’s writings, but may have put off by the length of his novels, now is the perfect opportunity to dip into his work by reading some of his short stories.  Beginning in January of 2015 and continuing through June, a monthly Thomas Wolfe Book Club will meet in downtown Asheville at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site.  Each month, a different local author will lead the club in discussion of a pre-selected short story written by Thomas Wolfe.

The good news is that you don’t have to attend all club meetings, or even multiple meetings, to be a member.  Just read any of the selected short stories, show up at the corresponding meeting, and be prepared for an informative and provocative conversation.

Thomas Wolfe Book Club meetings will take place on the 2nd Thursday of every month from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.  Refreshments will be served from 5:30 to 6:00; the discussion will take place from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM.  Our text, from which all story selections will be made, is The Complete Short Stories of Thomas Wolfe, edited by Francis E. Skipp with a Foreword by James Dickey (New York: Scribner’s, 1987). This book is on sale at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial and at local bookstores.

See you there!


 The Wilma Dykeman Legacy sponsored a booth at Asheville's Goombay Festival on September 12-13, 2014.  Wilma's featured book was Neither Black Nor White, a book which she wrote with her husband in 1957 and which was an early bullhorn for civil rights.  It won the national Sidney Hillman award for the best nook of the year on social justice.


Another success!

"Water Troubles and Water Solutions:  Western North Carolina Water in Context"

All presentations took place on Saturday afternoons - 3:00 to 4:30 PM - from late March through mid-May in the Lord Auditorium of Pack Memorial Library in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.  These presentations are now available for viewing on the RiveLink website !

Presenter:  Carla Friedrich
Programme Officer for Ecosystems
Regional Office for North America
United Nations Environment

April 5: ATLANTA
Presenter:  Gil Rogers
Senior Attorney
Southern Environmental Law Center

Presenter:  Hannah Holm
Coordinator, Water Center
Colorado Mesa University

Regina Guyer
  Associate Director of the   IDEAS Center
  UNC at Charlotte
Barry Gullet
  Charlotte Mecklenburg

     Rusty Rozzelle
  Stormwater Director
  Mecklenburg County
Amy Knisley
  Environmental Studies Faculty
  Warren Wilson College

Gary Springston
Water Supply Program Manager
Tennessee Valley Authority


We are excited to announce that storyteller and musician Joe Penland along with accompanist Cathy Arrowood participated in the Montford Music and Arts Festival in Asheville, North Carolina on Saturday, May 17.  They performed on both stages on behalf of the Wilma Dykeman Legacy. Here is an excerpt from Joe's website:

Joe Penland was born and raised in rural Madison County in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. He is the proud steward of twelve generations and over 350 years of the rich oral tradition of his Scotch and English ancestors.
From his birth, he has listened to and learned the stories and “love songs” these travelers brought with them across the ocean, then southwest to the narrow coves and high meadows that many consider the richest repository of Great Britain's folk songs in the world .

"Joe Penland was born and raised in rural Madison County in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. He is the proud steward of twelve generations and over 350 years of the rich oral tradition of his Scotch and English ancestors.

"From his birth, he has listened to and learned the stories and song these travelers brought with them across the ocean, then southwest to the narrow coves and high meadows that many consider the richest repository of Great Britain's folk songs in the world .

"He inherited the instruments of his grandfather who died long before his birth and was taught to play by his aunts. He learned the songs from them and the great singers of Sodom Laurel. These singers include Lee, Berzilla, Doug and Cas Wallin and Berzilla’s sister and brother Dellie Norton and Lloyd Chandler...."

“Joe Penland’s stories will make you thirsty for more local history.  Walking four miles pregnant to sing for an Englishman conjures enough images to
last the whole evening….and then there is the one about the chicken riding the chicken coop down the French Broad!”
~Laura Boosinger, Executive Director of The Madison County Arts Council


The fall 2013 Wilma Dykeman series was a tremendous success!  We averaged 60-70 participants, and a follow-up survey indicated that almost all participants would attend future Wilma Dykeman Legacy events.


Announcing a lecture series during fall 2013 at UNC-Asheville's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI - formerly the Center for Creative Retirement):

All presentations will take place on Sunday afternoons - 3:00 to 4:30 PM - in the Mannheimer Room

September 15:   Wilma Dykeman as Historian
                           Author of The French Broad,
                            With Fire and Sword (King's                                       Mountain), and Tennessee: A
Bicentennial History. Tennessee                                 State Historian for 20 years.
                           Dan Pierce, Professor of History                                and Department Chair,

September 29:   Wilma Dykeman as Journalist
                           Author of Neither Black Nor                                        Wh
ite and more than
                           20 feature articles for The New York                            Times MagazineThe NationThe                              Progressive, and                                                        other national magazines during the                            Civil Rights movement of the 1950's                            and 1960's.
                           Darin Waters, Visiting Assistant                               Professor of History,

October 6:         Wilma Dykeman as                                                     Environmentalist
                          Chapter on pollution in the French                              Broad River seven years before                                  Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.
                           Environmental themes throughout                              her novels, fight against Pigeon                                  River pollution, public speaking
                           throughout the region and nation.
                          Viki Rouse, Associate Professor                               of English, Walters State                                         Community College,
                             Morristown, Tennessee

October 20:       Wilma Dykeman as Teacher
                          UT professor of Appalachian                                       literature and creative writing for 21                             years, founder of the James R.
                          Stokely Institute for Liberal Arts                                   Education at UT (an early summer                             institute for high school teachers).
                          Martha Gill, retired teacher

November 3:    Wilma Dykeman as Novelist
                         The Tall Woman (has sold a quarter-                          million copies), its sequel The Far                              Family, and her last published
                         novel Return the Innocent Earth.
                         Jim Cole Overholt, retired teacher

November 10:   Wilma Dykeman as Traveler
                         Where she went, why she went, how                           she saw, her journals.
                         Jim Stokely, one of Wilma                                         Dykeman's two sons


On October 18, 2012, Professor Gordon McKinney gave an impressive talk about Wilma Dykeman's first novel, The Tall Woman.  McKinney is an expert on the Civil War in western North Carolina and the Southern mountain area.  He is the author of The Heart of Confederate Appalachia: Western North Carolina in the Civil War, as well as books on Zeb Vance and Southern Mountain Republicans.  Drawing from his detailed historical knowledge, he gave the factual 99.4% seal of approval to The Tall Woman and ended his talk with the statement, "If you read The Tall Woman, you will understand western North Carolina during the Civil War."  

McKinney gave this talk in the Special Collections room of the Ramsey Library on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Asheville.  Thanks to two Legacy directors - Helen Wykle and Deborah Miles - for making this talk possible.

And thank you, Gordon!